Firefox Friday #1 – Useful Plugins for SharePoint Development

As SharePoint developers we are bound to IE but often fallback to other browsers for various reasons such as performance, HTML standards compliance, or in my case with Firefox – the plugins available.   The official Technet on what is and is not supported on various browsers (Chrome is notably not even in there): http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc263526.aspx. I will follow up this post with a list of what specifically will not work with SharePoint when using Firefox (so you can’t say I didn’t warn you!)

While Google Chrome is definitely a solid choice, if you are using Firefox the following plugins will help you out:

FasterFox Plugin

Download: http://fasterfox.mozdev.org/
Description:
Various network tweaks that deliver a zippy experience. This will also speed up your SharePoint user experience greatly too.

  • Prefetch Links
    Dynamic speed increases can be obtained with Fasterfox’s unique
    prefetching mechanism, which recycles idle bandwidth by silently
    loading and caching all of the links on the page you are browsing.
  • Tweak Network
    Fasterfox allows you to tweak many network and rendering
    settings such as simultaneous connections, pipelining, cache,
    DNS cache, and initial paint delay.
  • Page Load Timer
    A millisecond accurate page load timer tests the effectiveness
    of your settings.
  • Block Popups
    A popup blocker for popups initiated by Flash plug-ins is also
    included.

Notes:
1. Remember, just because you’ve got a turbocharged browser doesn’t mean your colleagues or clients do.  This plugin is a double-edged sword because you can get lazy or indifferent about performance problems on web applications. If you are developing, testing, or QA’ing systems you should either use a different browser (COUGH IETester COUGH) or temporarily disable Fasterfox.

2. The out of the box setting in the Firefox > Add-Ons > FasterFox > Options menu is “Optimized“. Set that bad boy to “Turbo Charged” and to hell with playing nice with server resources – our time is worth more!


Windows Media Player Plugin for Firefox

Download: http://www.interoperabilitybridges.com/windows-media-player-firefox-plugin-download
Description: Lets you run Windows Media content in Firefox. In particular you will be able to stream WMV videos such as the ones we have in the newly minted it groove SharePoint center directly in your browser window.

Web Developer Toolbar

Download: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/web-developer/
Description: Adds a toolbar with a slew of options essential for anything webby. CSS, Forms, Images, Cookies, Viewing Source – instantly get Xray vision into any web page.

iMacros for Firefox

Download: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/imacros-for-firefox/?src=collection&collection_id=da0ecd99-2289-7ab0-7d57-e7c489c845c3
Description: Automate Firefox. Record and replay repetitious work. If you love the
Firefox web browser, but are tired of repetitive tasks like visiting the
same sites every days, filling out forms, and remembering passwords,
then iMacros for Firefox is the solution you’ve been dreaming of!
***Whatever you do with Firefox, iMacros can automate it.***

Colorzilla

Download: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/colorzilla/
Description: With ColorZilla you can get a color reading from any point in your
browser, quickly adjust this color and paste it into another program.
You can Zoom the page you are viewing and measure distances between any
two points on the page. The built-in palette browser allows choosing
colors from pre-defined color sets and saving the most used colors in
custom palettes.

Basic end-user usage could be grabbing the color code for the blue from a clients logo and matching it up to another design element.

Firebug

Download: http://getfirebug.com/
Description: Firebug integrates with Firefox to put a wealth of web development tools
at your fingertips while you browse. You can edit, debug, and monitor
CSS, HTML, and JavaScript live in any web page.

Learning to use Firebug is a whole different topic but it is possible for non-developers to get working with it to quickly id and delegate issues due to Javascript or CSS issues, broken images, etc.

Firebug also is required for Yahoo YSlow and the Google Pagespeed Firefox Plugins

SharePoint 2010 Get Current Username / Logged in User

Have been exploring the SharePoint Client Object Model and in particular the Javascript Object Model

While there are methods to get the current user info, you can also simply borrow the logged in username from the top right of the screen:


<script type="text/javascript">// <![CDATA[
 var Username = document.getElementById("zz16_Menu").innerHTML ;
 var end = Username.indexOf("<");
 var nameOnly = Username.substring(8, end);
 document.write(nameOnly);

// ]]></script>

This technique is a little complex for my liking however, so here’s a snappier way to grab the current login name (using Jquery):


var Username = $("#zz16_Menu").text();
document.write(Username);

Note that the #zz16 identifier will vary based on your Master page. Use the Firefox Web Developer tools or Internet Explorer F12 tools to find out what the ID should be on your SharePoint site.

Using this type of technique is definitely more brittle than actually using a CAML query however in my mind would be more performant than actually doing a lookup in the DB. Would love to know if someone knows the scoop on that..

Update 05/12/2011

As my colleague Colin pointed out – the name that appears on the top right can really be anything and can change – for example if a user gets married and their name changes. A better approach would be to retireve the value programmatically using SPServices ( http://spservices.codeplex.com/wikipage?title=$%28%29.SPServices.SPGetCurrentUser ). As of version v0.6.1, you can also request the ID of the user by specifying fieldName: “ID”.  Much more stable to use in most scenarios:

$().SPServices.SPGetCurrentUser({
	fieldName: "ID",
	debug: false
});

Recover from broken pages in SharePoint 2010

I’ve used various mod’s of this trick for different CMS’s over the years, here’s the one for SharePoint 2010 (thanks itgroove  Sean!).

So you’ve applied a new master page or page layout, tinkered with something you didn’t think was going to break in the UI, and now you’re left with a mangled wreck of a site layout  or an error screen you can’t seem to backtrack out of.

A simple thing to try: type in your site root and type in any page out of the main /_layouts folder, so something like:/

http://mysite.com/_layouts/settings.aspx

With any luck you will be returned to the pristine joy of the out-of-the-box SharePoint Master Page main site settings.

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